How To Drive A Golf Cart Safely

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How To Drive A Golf Cart Safely

August 23, 2011

Photo By: Christian Iooss

Photo By: Steve Mitchell/AP Photo

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: Chris Carlson/AP Photo

Photo By: David Distelhorst/The Repository/AP Photo

Photo By: Tim Roske/AP Photo

Photo By: Matt Collins

Photo By: Jeff Patterson

Photo By: Dom Furore

1.) DON'T RIDE, DITCH THE CART

As golfers grow older, or the days become hotter, playing with a cart becomes an attractive option. But the simplest way to avoid injury is totally avoiding golf carts. Carrying your bag, using a pull cart, or using a caddie are all safer options. Plus, you'll live longer, too. A 2008 study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden found golfers who walk regularly lived five years longer than the general population. Is that convincing enough?

Photo By: Christian Iooss

2.) KIDS SHOULDN'T DRIVE

Don't cave in. A 2008 study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy found that injuries to children constituted more than 30 percent of golf cart-related injuries. If a kid is less than 16 years old, they shouldn't be driving. And if they can't reach the floor sitting down, they shouldn't be riding. "Children are even more likely than adults to fall from the golf cart," says Dr. Gary Smith, founder and director of the institute, housed in the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, "and these falls are associated with higher rates of head and neck injuries and hospitalizations. Greater efforts are needed to prevent these injuries."

Photo By: Steve Mitchell/AP Photo

3.) DON'T SHOW OFF, OR DRIVE FAST

Don't pull an Evel Knievel (pictured). In a 2005 interview with Golf Digest's Guy Yocom, the infamous daredevil tells a story of jumping a cliff while driving a golf cart -- all with his wife in the passenger seat. But quite frankly, there's no need to drive fast (or jump cliffs) to get to your ball quicker. The ball won't go anywhere. And don't do anything crazy. NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson broke his left wrist in a 2006 incident when he reportedly laid down "spread eagled" on top of the cart. We thought a racecar driver would know better.

Photo By: Dom Furore

4.) ALWAYS BE AWARE AND READY

There are certain guidelines you must follow on the golf course to protect yourself. Staying behind a golfer who is hitting is one of the most important ones. Even if you're in a cart, seemingly protected, an errant shot can ricochet and hit you. Golf Digest research from 1999 indicated that getting hit in the head with a golf ball is about a tenth of the impact of a head-on car crash. Getting hit can be a serious accident, so ensure you're always in a safe spot. And keep your head on a swivel for players from other holes -- even the pros are known to hit the ball onto the opposite fairway.

Photo By: Dom Furore

5.) USE EXTREME CAUTION ON THE ROADS

Sometimes, you have to cross a street to get to another part of a course. Don't assume that a car is going to stop for you. Wait until traffic is cleared until you drive across. Even if you're driving slow, it could be dangerous. A 2005 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that golf carts moving as slow as 11 mph are capable of ejecting someone not wearing a seat belt from a cart. When was the last time your buckled up on the course? That's what we thought.

Photo By: Chris Carlson/AP Photo

6.) DON'T DRIVE RECKLESSLY

Practice the same caution you would with your automobile. If you've had a drink, you should not be driving. Bill Murray once got a DUI while chauffeuring fellow partygoers around Sweden in a golf cart. The potential danger of such a situation is high if you do not use common sense.

Photo By: David Distelhorst/The Repository/AP Photo

7.) ALWAYS SET THE BRAKE AND DRIVE SLOWLY ON SLOPES AND HILLS

More than half of the 148,000 cart-related injuries from 1990-2006 occurred when someone either jumped from a cart or was struck by one. The most dangerous area of the cart path is on the slopes. In 1978, a woman was switching seats in the cart with her riding companion on a steep hill. The driver's foot slipped from the brake, and the cart ended up rolling down an embankment, flipping over and pinning the woman underneath the vehicle, killing her. Unfortunately, there's not a shortage of these stories.

Photo By: Tim Roske/AP Photo

8.) AVOID SHARP TURNS

If your cart tips over, not only will you cause damage to your clubs, but you're likely to injure yourself and others riding with you. We encourage facilities to consider golf-cart safety when they're designing pathways, but the ultimate responsibility is on you, the golfer. Don't be lead-footed. In addition to risking injury, you'll have to pay for any damage you cause on the course, too.

Photo By: Matt Collins

9.) MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE FROM YOUR PARTNER'S SWING PATH

This will prevent damage to your cart, but more importantly, possible injury to your playing partner. When a golfer swings at full force and has his swing impeded by a golf cart, this could cause serious injury.

Photo By: Jeff Patterson

10.) FOLLOW THE MARKED PATHS OF THE COURSE

Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." The course has put the cart path in a spot for a reason. When in doubt, stay on it. If you think you're heading in the wrong direction, head back to where you came from. Area marked as "ground under repair" must be avoided. Because carts are not currently equipped with passenger brakes or other extensive safety features, it is the responsibility of the driver to navigate away from danger when you're on the verge of catastrophe.

Photo By: Dom Furore

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